Israeli kills himself after losing millions with Levene

Oct 21, 2009
Jack Bremer

News of Moni Fanan’s suicide comes as Serious Fraud Office jumps on ‘Beano’ Levene

One of Israel's best-known sporting figures, the recently retired manager of the Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball team, appears to be the latest in a line of high-profile suicides over the past 12 months brought on by the financial crisis. Moni Fanan, 63, hanged himself after financial investments made on behalf of several basketball players and officials left him £12m in debt.

The investments had been made through the London derivatives trader Nicholas Levene, nicknamed 'Beano', who has gone bankrupt owing clients £200m. Today the Serious Fraud Office announced it has opened a criminal investigation into 45-year-old Levene.

Fanan (above)was found dead in the shower by his wife Sharon on Monday and was buried on Tuesday. He had a reputation for investing on behalf of players, referees and fellow officials over the years. "A lot of people at the funeral gave their money to Moni Fanan," a senior players' agent told the Israeli paper Haaretz. "Some of my players bought penthouses with the money they earned through Fanan."

A family member of one player who lost money told the paper: "We made some handsome profits there. I lost a lot of money now, but in the past he won me profits. That's how it is - you win, you lose."

Fanan had built up a relationship with Levene, and begun investing most of the money he received from players in stocks with him, after the Londoner travelled to Tel Aviv several times seeking investment business.

"At some point, Moni became Levene's money channel in Israel," a senior lawyer said. "Moni didn't hang himself because of debts to one player or another. Things turned bad for Moni when he started dealing with really heavy sums, and by the time he really got in trouble, other people were already involved."

Several powerful individuals are understood to to have lost money with Levene and pressed for a police investigation. They include the Stagecoach bus company founders Brian Souter and Ann Gloag, who are owed £18m, and the rag trade turned restaurant tycoon Richard Caring, who next week opens a Manhattan version of his flagship Le Caprice.

Levene lived extravagantly while times were good. He shared a £2m mock-Tudor home in High Barnet, north London with his wife Tracey and three children, cared for by a butler, maid and chauffeur. Neither he nor his family have been seen for several days but there have been reports that he is holed up at the Priory, rehab clinic to the stars.

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